Survey points to major dissatisfaction over AgResearch relocation plans

A survey of PSA members at AgResearch shows only one per cent are happy to relocate, while a third of those who have been asked to move, have indicated they will leave the organisation rather than shift. AgResearch is moving ahead with plans to shift up to 250 positions over the next 3-4 years as part of a major change in the distribution of resources and infrastructure. It will see about 174 positions from Ruakura in Hamilton and about 80 from Invermay in Dunedin shifted to campuses in either Lincoln or Palmerston North.

The PSA designed a survey to find out how members are responding to AgResearch’s Future Footprint plans. 177 members from AgResearch sites around the country responded, including those whose positions are being relocated and those whose aren’t.

Key findings

  • Only 1 per cent indicated they are happy to relocate
  • One third of those asked to move will leave and seek employment elsewhere while a further 10 per cent indicated they would retire
  • 27 per cent don’t want to move but want to stay with AgResearch
  • Of those who have not been asked to move, 10 per cent say they will leave
  • Just over 25 per cent are either very or extremely stressed by the restructuring with another 39 per cent saying they are moderately stressed
  • Only 14 per cent indicated that their productivity had not been impacted as a result of Future Footprint
  • Nearly 80 per cent are concerned about the impact of the plans on the science sector and related stakeholders PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff says the restructure represents a massive change and a lot of uncertainty for staff. It also forces some big life-changing decisions on those who will be asked to relocate.

“We know from the survey results and the accompanying comments made by members that there are serious concerns about the potential loss of staff, expertise and capability out of the organisation.” “There is a clear perception that the Future Footprint plan will seriously undermine AgResearch’s ability to deliver quality agricultural science and threaten future funding. The fact that 80 per cent of those surveyed say they are worried about the impact of the restructure on the science sector as a whole is significant and echoes the concerns of many other groups and stakeholders,” he says.

The PSA says the relocation plan is also proving to be very stressful for staff. Richard Wagstaff says “people are struggling to understand the rationale for the plans as well as dealing with the uncertainty around their work and their futures.” “This survey should send a clear message to AgResearch about how staff feel about the Future Footprint plans and the effect it will have on staff retention and organisational capacity, not to mention the provision of quality scientific work to the agricultural sector.”